One of the great battles of my life is with pride. It manifests itself in many different forms, and often re-appears when I least expect it. From conversations with friends, and reading that spans centuries, I know I am not alone in the battle against this hydra-headed monster. I suspect most people seeking to develop an intimate relationship with the Savior find themselves plagued time and again with pride.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is simply not thinking about yourself at all.
When your focus and attention is on Christ, when you are busy in the work He has given you, you simply lose yourself. Your desires, your rights become of little consequence when you are consumed by something so much larger than yourself.
Beware false humility, a favorite form of pride for Christians in which you purposely denigrate yourself or your accomplishments in order to elicit sympathy, praise, and affirmation from others.
Ideally, we'd hear the whisper of the Spirit when the first cancerous cells of pride began to multiply in another area of our lives. By it's very nature, however, pride often drowns out the still, small voice of God. The following questions are ones I have developed from a number of resources to help evaluate my heart and life. This list is most definitely not a tool to judge the humility of others. If a question hurts, or makes you uncomfortable, pray about it, and ask the Lord to search your heart. Not everyone would agree with every sign, and many more questions should be added. I find most of my meditations develop and grow through the years, so I suspect I'll hit on this topic again at a future date.
Is my conversation edifying?
- Am I curious about things that are none of my concern? Do I enjoy gossip (joining or initiating a conversation in which I am neither a part of the problem nor a part of the solution)? Do I insert myself into other's private conversations?
- Am I characterized by light-minded chatter, jokes, laughter, and boastfulness? Do others find it difficult or uncomfortable to have a serious conversation with me? Am I annoyed by light or repetitive conversation, especially that of children, the elderly, or those who are mentally challenged?
- Do I prefer talking rather than quietly listening to others? Do I think about the next thing I plan to say or interrupt rather than listening to what the person speaking now is trying to communicate? Do I avoid interaction with others indefinitely, remaining either aloof or shy? Do I leave comments on social networks, forums and blogs that direct the attention back to myself, or do I show a genuine interest in the topic being discussed and/or the person posting?
- Do I interfere in other's business without being asked or give unsolicited advice rather than waiting to be asked or being moved by the Spirit to give exhortation? Do I take credit for others' thoughts and work, or do I give attribution where it is due? Do I correct or highlight others' mistakes publicly when it isn't absolutely necessary?
- Do I downplay and refuse compliments or graciously accept them and deflect the glory to God? Do I dismiss or bristle at constructive criticism, or do I believe the person has my best interest at heart and consider their words carefully? Do I regularly make negative statements about myself or my abilities in an attempt to elicit compliments and affirmation from others? Do I give false compliments in order to please another? Do I lie or stretch the truth in order to make myself appear more connected or appealing?
Are my attitudes excellent?
- Do I believe I deserve special rights, position, or recognition within the groups to which I belong? Are there jobs I refuse to do because they are beneath me? Do I neglect or procrastinate on unsavory tasks, hoping someone else will pick up my slack? Do I believe that everyone has to like me, or like me the most? Do I cultivate an "inner circle", drop names, or shun certain individuals to make myself appear more important or connected? Do I often find myself complaining -- either officially or unofficially -- to managers, supervisors, leadership, and anyone else who will listen that I have been treated unfairly? Do I skip or shorten my attendance at church services or family events because my agenda and preferences take precedence? I will write more about singularity in a future letter because it has become such an overwhelming problem in our society.
- Do I get easily annoyed or impatient with people, things, and situations that are not following my agenda?
- Do I believe that I am holier or more spiritual than others because of my education, experiences, abilities, appearance, or actions or do I forget the things which are behind and press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Do I avoid people who are from a different social station or age group than I am because I am repulsed, uninterested or intimidated by them, or do I make an effort to show kindness to and interest in everyone God places in my path?
Are my actions exceptional?
- Do I defensively justify myself/my children or give an insincere confession when I'm confronted about an attitude or action, or do I take responsibility and humbly allow God to search my heart and deal with sin? Am I more concerned about getting caught and losing face than I am about restoring my relationships with others and God?
- Do I criticize, gossip, and actively or passively rebel against the authorities God has placed in my life or do I show respect, whether or not they've earned it? Do I have a difficult time following instructions because I think I have a better way or know more than my superior? Do I arbitrarily insist that my children, students, or employees perform in a particular way and up to a particular standard that will reflect well on me or make my life easier at their expense?
- Do I find sin easy, or am I convicted at the first step away from God? Do I habitually sin in an area, or do I maintain watchfulness in areas I am tempted to fall? Do I break certain rules because "everyone else does", because I feel that I am above them, or I know I won't get caught? Intentionally speeding would be a classic example!
- Do I change my convictions, opinions, mannerisms, or appearance simply to please and win the approval of others? Do I stubbornly refuse to alter my convictions, opinions, mannerisms, or appearance expecting others to conform to my personal standards? Do I have difficulty producing consistently excellent work because I insist on perfection or indulge indiscriminately in recreation? Am I persistently late?
These questions are a synthesis of the Word, exceptional writings on pride & humility through the centuries, and bear the mark of your Daddy and brothers' thoughtful help, too. As I've already mentioned, this is an area I will continue to meditate and write about as God continues to teach me through His word and through His servants.
Ultimately, we once again come back to Jesus. Stay focused on Him. Die daily to self -- your rights, your desires, your schemes. Trust and obey the Captain of your soul. Humility brings a deep quiet to your soul that is the hallmark of a godly woman. I've been privileged to serve with and be mentored by a few of these precious saints during my life, and it is my earnest desire that you will one day be marked by that same sweet humility I see in their lives.